Informative Round Table on the Cuban Adjustment Act, held at the studios of the Cuban Televisión on 13 November 2002 "Year of the heroes imprisoned by the US empire"

(Stenograph versions – Council of State)

Randy Alonso. – Good evening viewers and listeners.

As our Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced yesterday, there has been another act of air piracy incited by the Cuban Adjustment Act and condoned by the US government, which has given refuge to the hijacker of the Cuban airplane and his accomplices.

This evening’s Round Table on the murderous Cuban Adjustment Act is joined by Reinaldo Taladrid, journalist with Cuban Television’s News Department; Arleen Rodríguez Derivet, editor of Tricontinental magazine; Lázaro Barredo, journalist with Trabajadores, and Rogelio Polanco, Editor-in-Chief of the Juventud Rebelde newspaper.

Our studio audience includes comrades from the Young Communists Union,

Havana City, Havana Provincial Committee and also members of the National Committee of the Union.

(Images relating to the subject matter are shown)

Randy Alonso.-Two days ago, international media sources reported the hijacking of a Cuban aircraft which landed in the Florida Keys. The Cuban Foreign Ministry revealed the details yesterday, in a note for public information, via the press nationwide. The Cuban Foreign Ministry denounced this new provocation of our people, fostered by the Cuban Adjustment Act and triggered by recent statements by the US President, George W Bush. It constitutes a new act of air piracy against our people.

Televisión Española was one of the agencies, TV channels and newspapers that reported the event. Let's see how they reported what happened on the 11th.

Journalist - Seven adults and a girl were aboard the aircraft, an old machine of Russian manufacture used for dusting crops in Cuba. It was intercepted by the US authorities and forced to land at Key West, Florida. According to the FBI, the 8 Cubans are in the custody of the immigration service and, under US law, will be allowed onto American soil.

As far as the Cuban Foreign Ministry was concerned, this was a hijacking perpetrated by the aircraft's captain. He had illegally picked up a group of people at Pinar del Rio airport, including a child, for the purpose of taking them to the United States.

The Cuban government has sent the US administration a diplomatic note of protest, once again demanding the immediate repatriation of those who, in its opinion, committed this mindless act.

Randy Alonso - This happened on 11 November last. The diplomatic note from our Foreign Ministry was sent yesterday. We have been investigating the facts of this case to report them to our people. Let's start with the news Arleen Rodríguez Derivet has for us.

Arleen Rodríguez - Thank you, Randy.

Greetings to the viewers and listeners and, of course, our studio audience.

In fact, as reported in the Foreign Ministry statement, on the morning of Monday 11th November an AN-2 crop-spraying plane was stolen, taking off early from the La Cubana landing strip in the Los Palacios area of Pinar del Rio. Its approved destination was the provincial capital, where it was to undergo maintenance operations at Alvaro Barba airport. In the event, the pilot Nemesio Alonso picked up 7 passengers at a certain point on the runway, including a girl (his grandaughter) and two other couples, another person he knew and the latter's son.

Apart from Nemesio Alonso, the pilot of the plane stolen from the Cuban authorities, (it belongs to the Cuban government, for use in crop dusting in this part of Pinar del Rio) the other people involved in the hijacking or theft were his son Isobe Alonso; the latter's wife Maydilián Orama; their four-year-old daughter Brunilda; another couple (Aldo Gutiérrez and Marisleidys Orama), evidently also related to the other person, and Mercedes Valdés who, according to acquaintances and fellow workers, worked at the La Cubana landing strip and had a love affair with Nemesio; also her son, Bernardo Amarán.

Inevitably, as regards these events, every time Cubans have been involved, Miami comes out with endless stories about this issue, that they were people fleeing Cuba, etcetera. They were all members of Cuban political and mass organizations with no history of problems or crimes of any kind that would have meant they were being monitored in some way. Nemesio had nothing more in his past than a reprimand (in 1994), which had not involved any kind of legal proceeding.

To return to the facts: the plane took off from Pinar del Rio, incredibly penetrating US antiterrorist defenses. They were escorted for the landing at Key West by two US aircraft. They were then taken immediately to the INS's Krome center - also incredible, because everyone has been witness in recent times to the methods they use for dealing summarily with illegal immigrants. In the case of this group, practically the same Monday the INS spokesperson announced they expected to release them during the day. This was noted also by several news agencies, which report that the Haitians who arrived at the Florida coast on 29 October are still being held.

What is known about these people, particularly about Mercedes Valdés Rodríguez, the one who has a relationship with the pilot but isn't his wife (the pilot's family, apart from the son that went with him, were not involved in the theft of the plane), is that, as she mentioned repeatedly to neighbors and acquaintances, she had tried to see her son, who lives in the United States. The same US government that welcomed the people who stole the plane had twice refused her a visa, believing her to be a potential immigrant. Mercedes has a son there, as I mentioned, which explains why she wanted to go to the United States, while her other son is one of the people involved in hijacking the plane.

As regards the others, as I said, what we know is that they had a normal life in Cuba, that they are not well known, in fact they are just ordinary people. We don't know if they had any other motive for leaving Cuba, apart from the opportunity presented by the Cuban Adjustment Act

I think it's very important to clarify, given that in Miami they are starting to say that this was a political defection by these people, that they have no history at all that would support this falsehood.

I want to suggest to the listeners and viewers and our studio audience that we imagine for a moment that all these people left from some country other than Cuba - or Latin America or the Caribbean either, of course, because they wouldn't have been able to get past the US antiterrorist defenses - simply not Cubans, but able to get in, and include someone who has stolen a plane to escape, not from his country but from his family (including his wife), whom he has apparently abandoned for reasons known only to those who know about the relationship between Mercedes and Nemesio. It seems he left with 'the other woman'.

I think that if they hadn't been Cuban, on their arrival in America this episode would have been worth, perhaps, a caption on the scandal page, about someone who had stolen a plane to abandon his family, abandon his family responsibilities and, simply, I think he would be prosecuted, given the clear fact of having committed a crime identified both in international law and in the law of the US itself.

Given the likely motives of these people in terms of the consumer goods one assumes they can get in America, plus the desire for a family reunion which the Office of US Interests refused to sanction, as well as, apparently, personal reasons of making a new life with someone else, I don't think they had any other motives. And then there's this arbitrary law, an absurd law, that invites them to reach their goals at the risk of everything you can imagine, but mainly by committing crimes that will go unpunished.

To sum up, I would say that this is nothing more than another case of the use of the Cuban Adjustment Law to pursue personal aims. Incredibly, a great power, a great country, suddenly gives in; in other words, it has a law which means that its antiterrorist policy can be ignored to serve merely personal interests, something that wouldn't happen if the case involved non-Cubans. That's why I said one should imagine what would have happened if the people had been from some other country.

Randy Alonso - And especially someone who's left his wife and daughter, for this adventure prompted by the Cuban Adjustment Act, something which - as you say - might perhaps appear on the scandal page of some newspaper were it not for the fact that it involved Cuba and an act of air piracy, the hijacking of a plane belonging to the Cuban State, registered in Cuba and hijacked this pilot and his companions, to pursue this illusory promise of the Cuban Adjustment Act and that, as you were saying, it's public knowledge in Los Palacios that the woman who was with the pilot had publicly stated having applied twice to the US interests Office for a visa to visit her son and had been turned down. Nonetheless, now she's there, a plane is stolen from Cuba and is welcomed by the US authorities, another act of air piracy to add to the long list of theft of planes and boats, crimes against Cuba, incited by the Cuban Adjustment Act.

We have known this story for nearly 40 years now, and this new incident demonstrates that the Cuban Adjustment Act is still in force, is still a tool of US anti-Cuba policy, and has been strengthened by the current US administration.

Lázaro, I think you have something to say on this subject. I remember a round table nearly two years ago at which we were cataloging the hijacking of aircraft that had taken place in Cuba, in response to this murderous Cuban Adjustment Act.

Lázaro Barredo - Yes, Randy

First let me mention that I have just left the meeting of the Latin American parliament and that the issue of greatest concern to its members is the problem of migration to the United States; they're even going to call a special debating session on this issue soon. There were delegates there from 22 countries, more than 200 members of parliament from every political stratum, of every political trend, from the right to the left, and agreement was general on the need to discuss the issue of discrimination against Latin American immigrants, who are deported, mistreated, humiliated at the border. This is a subject we've talked about here very often, noting the worrying trend of growing violence and mistreatment of immigrants, except Cubans of course.

It now seems that its open season for the Miami mafia and especially the people smugglers. They have a free hand to do what they like; what they've just got is a kind of carte blanche, it's a demonstration of how the mafia has the final say on this issue, of how the murderous Act is being revived with total support by the US government. It's a very dangerous kind of incitement, in my view, to something that is not new, that started against the Cuban Revolution right from the beginning in 1959.

I've been looking up the statistics again. This is the 53rd hijacking of a Cuban aircraft. 53 Cuban aircraft have been hijacked and, almost without exception, diverted to the United States. Many of these, the majority, have never been returned. A lot of these crimes caused death or injury to a large number of people: pilots, guards, by-standers, ordinary passengers, as happened in the case of the plane destined for Nueva Gerona a few years ago, when the hijackers, having been thwarted by the crew, started throwing grenades, injuring a large number of passengers. And we're not talking about frustrated attempts, were talking about successful hijackings, which set a precedent and a greater and greater incitement to people to find illegal ways of leaving the country.

This revives, breathes new life into the Cuban Adjustment Act; it's another twist to the spiral of crime against Cuba, it starts again the process of inciting people to embark on these attempts. It shows that the main obstacle to solving the problem is the attitude of the US government.

The Cuban population has seen hundreds - I don't have the exact figure to hand, but I know there were hundreds - of people sent back; have seen interviews on television here with people who have openly admitted that they've left three times and that they're planning a fourth attempt. All these people are encouraged by what's happened. All these people try again when they see, effectively, a back exit. They don't work, they don't readjust to life here. All they see is the chance: "The Interests Section won't give me a visa. I'm leaving the other way". The danger comes from the repetition of acts of this kind, the risks involved in hijacking or piracy. We can theorize as much as we like - I've got together a whole raft of evidence, for later - but the certainty is that these are, by their nature, crimes of hijacking and piracy. This is confirmed in the rules on aircraft security under discussion by the International Civil Aviation Authority. If you take over an airplane, your crime is assessed according to its implications for public safety. If you steal a plane due at another airport for maintenance and divert that plane, think what the consequences could be. This is no small matter.

Randy Alonso - It's stealing, plain and simple, of a Cuban aircraft. There is no other name for it under the law, however much they want to call it otherwise. It's theft, an act of piracy - as you were saying - and could have consequences. Let's remember what happened in September 2000, the stealing of a light aircraft, to be precise, in the same province, which resulted in the death of a young person in the Straits of Florida.

Lázaro Barredo - Yes, and although Arleen mentioned it at the beginning, I think it's worth repeating, given the example we have of what happened in September; it happened twice in September and especially the second time; this plane was diverted from the same area of Pinar del Rio, diverted much further from the US border: it ran out of fuel, went down in the sea and someone died. If a Panamanian boat hadn't been in the area by chance to save them, everyone would have died.

In cases like this - not just hijackings of planes but illegal traffic generally - the risk of fatality has increase to over 90%, given the number of deaths this has caused in the last two years. We've talked about this before at previous round tables, how it's all going to be aggravated while they maintain this policy.

Randy Alonso - We talked about it last year - deaths of more than 30, deaths of 10 or more in groups. It's how a policy of death has become what we could call the current main policy of the US administration in its confrontation with Cuba: the recent pronouncements of the President, the actions taken by the US authorities in cases of this kind, are the measure of how it is becoming one of the main instruments for confronting the Cuban Revolution, especially considering that anti-blockade sentiment is growing all the time, as is rejection of US policy towards Cuba on the part of American public opinion in major business and social sectors there.

Thank you for your comments, Lázaro.

(A montage of images relating to the subject is shown)

Randy Alonso - Well, this whole incident we are telling you about today, that we are analyzing, that our people have known about via the note by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - it's not really by chance that its has happened now. It has been encouraged, really provoked, not just by the murderous Cuban Adjustment Act, which has existed since 1966, but has been intensified, we could say, by recent statements by the US President, who has really encouraged not just illegal departures but also hijackings of planes and boats with this policy, as a means of confronting the Cuban Revolution.

Taladrid, you have the President's exact words there. I think it would be useful to explain to our people how this becomes incitement to acts of this kind, based on what he actually said.

Reinaldo Taladrid - Yes Randy, with pleasure.

Well here we have a chain of events in which, as you say, the keyword is that nothing happened just by chance; they are linked, some affect and cause others.

Before dealing with what President Bush said, I suggest we start with the scandalous case of the boatload of Haitians.

Everyone remembers the people-smugglers boat with Haitians aboard that got as far as the bank of one of the causeways linking Miami to the Keys, and the coincidence that local TV helicopters could see what was happening, which they then started to cover live. Perhaps that was what was different about it, that it was going out live on television. Heartrending, the scenes, dramatic - but perhaps not the most dramatic. The most dramatic are those in which you see those desperate Haitians jumping overboard, a sort of desperate invasion to get into the United States, and the reception they get: police, persecution, trying to get into cars. Well, that was a national scandal, it was news in all the national media. And what happened? There was immediate protest in the streets, in Miami, and the protest had a focus, there's no doubt of it, and the protests were quite violent, they weren't quiet protests. There were people on the ground, there were people hit, there were blows, there was repression, the protest had a focus: Why do they treat us differently - the Haitians and members of the Afro-American community were saying - from the Cubans that get here? Why is there a Cuban Adjustment Act? Why is there a Cuban Adjustment Act?, what's the reason for it? There was no answer in Miami for the Haitian community, no answer even in the middle of the electoral campaign that was in progress in the state of Florida.

The entire US press was asking the same question: Why are the Cubans treated differently? Why is there a Cuban Adjustment Act? What I've never seen in the US press is an answer on this issue. Everybody asks themselves the question, but I've never seen a single answer. The treatment was different, they said; that there was the Cuban Adjustment Act in the case of Cubans, etc., they said; but no-one had an answer. The President couldn't escape these questions, and just a few days after this - and here I have the verbatim transcript of what he said - he was giving a press conference and they asked him: Why are the Haitians treated differently?

Why treatment based on race? That is, discriminatory even, they said. I'm going to quote what the US President George W. Bush said in reply: In the first place, the immigration laws are the same for the Haitians as for everybody else, except the Cubans; and the difference, of course, is that we don't send people back to Cuba because they have been persecuted. "Have been persecuted". This is the actual reply the US President gave.

A strange thing: the press conference ended there. "Good afternoon" and off he went leaving everyone there; they couldn't even ask a return question, which is normal at these press conferences.

Now, here is something that I don't know whether it's true or not, Randy, in what it says here. For instance, the US President says they don't send people back here, because if they do it here "they have been and are being persecuted".

OK, let's start with the term 'persecuted'. It's already been confirmed, in the first place, that the people who went were not being persecuted at all, they were not charged with any crime, they had no political problems with anybody, they didn't even belong to the ranks of US government employees paid to make opposition (and I quote). On the contrary, they belonged to various entities that exist in the different sectors here. So they were not into politics, they were not politically persecuted, they were not involved in anything to do with politics. So the first point is that when they got there, they were not being persecuted.

Second, and a good question never answered in the United States: Why did they twice refuse a visa at the Interests Section to a woman who went in this plane? Why don't they do the same now at the Key West office? These people arrive by plane and go to the Key West immigration office; at this office, it's the same government - probably it's a different government, or in Florida it's a different government. If it's the same country, how come you get different answers to the same application by the same person? And there's been no change in the status of this person, who applied twice to the Interests Section here for a visa to go to the US, was turned down twice and then when she goes to an office of the same department on US soil, they give it to her. For what reason? What changed? They should tell us; perhaps, there's something we don't know, secret, hidden, mysterious; but nothing changed and they gave it to her. And we know about this from things she said in her own neighborhood, in other words, also for this reason, because they never give out information of this kind. This would be a good first question.

But as far as what the US President said is concerned, that people sent back to Cuba are persecuted, I'm not going to repeat what we have said many times, with complete foundation, about how no-one who's been sent back has been persecuted.

After the migration agreements now in force were signed, Cuba made a goodwill gesture not included in the agreements, by allowing - as a gesture of goodwill, I repeat, even beyond the agreements - the officials of the US Interests Section here to verify on site, on the ground, among the population, wherever, that the people sent back were not subjected to reprisals or, to quote the US President, persecuted.

Well, the US Interests Section has used and abused this goodwill gesture by the Cuban government, because they've checked every nook and cranny where someone has been sent back and by all accounts got tired of always finding the same lack of reprisals, absence of persecution and started using these visits to do other things that have nothing to do with diplomacy, nothing to do with the migration agreements but a lot to do with subverting the legitimate government of a country in which they are legally represented as diplomats.

So, firstly, the checks by the Interests Section have revealed absolutely nothing; and we can't say that these were impartial checks, but rather the opposite I would say, because they were hoping to find violation, to find reprisals, to find – and I quote again the President - persecution.

But, in case there's any doubt, what happens the day after these pronouncements by the US President? Incredibly, the state of Florida press reports a statement by an anonymous State Department official - note that: an anonymous State Department official, the day after the US President spoke, makes statements while asking that his anonymity be protected, something that no-one believes of course - a statement saying that the President must have been confused: the Interests Section in Havana has never been able to prove a single case of persecution of people sent back. We didn't say that, it was an official of the US State Department, evidently trying to correct something the US President said.

If an anonymous official, who was evidently instructed to say that, because no anonymous official would dare to contradict the US President, especially in the press, we're not naïve enough to believe such stories; if an official says so, then it appears that the US President was lying. I can't find another word for it: it probably isn't the most polite, but it seems to me that what we have here is a lie. If they say the Interests Section hasn't been able to verify a single case, and if as well an official comes out with a correction the following day saying that they haven't been able to verify a single case, so that the President must have been confused, or got confused and lied, because it doesn't matter much when you make statements like this if you're not sure, don't know what you're talking about. So there's evidently something here that isn't real, what the US President said.

But that's not all. If the US President comes out with that, what happens afterwards? Anyone who hears it, who reads it, who finds out about it or gets a distorted account of it from any of the several sources paid by the US administration to poison public opinion here anyway they can, would that cause a problem? Fine; let another plane like this go. One went down.

I ask myself this question: if this plane, which is a crop-dusting plane - not designed for flying between Pinar del Rio and Florida or Key West - goes down in the sea and they all die, including the girl, aren't they people incited by what the US President has just said? Is it related in some way, if there had been fatalities in this case, with this statement that encourages people to do this? Should one be responsible for what one says, given that one is a public figure, a top-level official, in this case the highest official of a government? Should one not accept a minimum degree of responsibility in saying this, if there are human lives at stake? Because planes that were not built for such purposes have gone down, trying to do this.

In any case, the story does not end there. Today the Immigration & Naturalization service made an announcement: Washington, November 13, NOTIMEX. Following the incident involving the arrival of Haitians in Miami, the Immigration & Naturalization Service is applying an accelerated deportation policy as regards illegal immigrants arriving by sea, except in the case of Cubans. All individuals arriving illegally by sea will be subject to accelerated deportation procedures and during the relevant legal process will remain in detention centers at the discretion of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Justice Department, the institution clarified.

And it says the agency stated that Cuba citizens are subject to the Cuban Adjustment Act and will continue to be processed in a manner consistent with this Act, in other words, repeats the same thing again.

The important thing, Randy, is to ask ourselves why. No-one wonders "Well, why, why the exception" Because if what the President said is the answer, evidently they've denied it, even an official of his government. So that can't be the answer, that there's persecution; there has to be another. Is someone giving it? Is anybody asking for it? Nobody is answering.

And finally, there's someone else who had to figure in this story, the Great Villain, the Biggest Villain: Otto Reich, he spoke about this. What did the Great Villain say?

US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Otto Reich explained last week that the Cuban Adjustment Act's origins lie in the fact that - listen to this word, we know the man and how he works - there was probable cause of possible persecution by the Havana government. This "probable cause" is a dubious legal term you use to say that something might be happening and then I do something because I have evidence that it's happening.

So, first question: What evidence does the Great Villain have for saying there is "probable cause" for believing that people sent back will be persecuted? Only one question, the one were used to asking him; he must be challenged to present a single piece of evidence of probable cause for believing that people sent back will be persecuted. One piece of evidence and, well, probably at least his listeners at the Heritage Foundation where he spoke will be satisfied.

Randy Alonso - The usual setting for spreading his lies about Cuba.

Reinaldo Taladrid - He likes it there: it seems to be fertile ground. Or it seems they need that to finance studies.

Let's not forget the millions of dollars that are approved for studies of all kinds, panels on Cuba, in this budget and the next. Don't forget, this money has to be spent, don't forget that.

Now listen this phrase of the Great Villain: It is not discriminatory against anyone else, you could say it discriminates against all the rest but is not directed against Haitians, Trinitarians or Ecuadorians, he told the audience at the Heritage Foundation.

Look, Mr Reich, biggest villain, the Cuban Adjustment Act is designed no more and no less than for the politicking and banditry of all that mafia, of which you are an important part. Because this is an Adjustment Act to get rich on, to make money, to get money from the federal government. Apart from the political objective. I'm talking about the mafia side and the criminal side of this law; I'm leaving aside the dead you don't worry about, that nobody worries about, because no-one talks about the dead. It would be good to know who is to answer for all the deaths of people leaving the country in this way, caused by this irresponsible law.

And the other thing, we'll see how far you go in terms of the lack of ethics as a politician and a human being, supposedly with evidence against Cuba but which is constantly slipping away; you have to base it all on something, anything to make an impression, propagandize. It doesn't matter if you endanger human lives, if children die, if people are deceived into irresponsible adventures. The problem is having something to go on, against Cuba, to justify the conferences, Heritage Foundation, speeches, jobs in the State Department and policies and strategies to pursue. So, how far can they be stretched, the ethics of those prepared to sacrifice human lives, to lie as did the US President publicly on this issue, without it mattering to him at all?

It's another example, Randy, of why the essence is the Cuban Adjustment Act and, simply, there's no other solution, because there's no answer by the President either, except abolishing the Cuban Adjustment Act.

Randy Alonso - A law that wasn't applied to those Haitians you can see in those pictures and which, as you say, were vilified, humiliated, in the treatment they got. Several of them have already gone back to their country and, as you yourself said, the US President, none other than the US President himself, has said that the policy is the same for everyone except the Cubans.

It is the Cuban Adjustment Act aimed at political objectives against the Revolution, it is the recent announcement by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service that, incidentally, this very day in the Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper, Judy Orihuela, FBI spokesperson, in Miami, accompanied by her opposite numbers in the border police and the INS, said the agencies had rejected the case of this hijacking because they believed the members of the group came to the US of their own free will and they are unlikely to be charged with stealing the plane.

In other words, in this open-and-shut case, which everybody knows is the hijacking of an aircraft from Cuban soil, as far as the US federal authorities are concerned there is no evidence, something which has to be clear when one hears the US President say that its legal for the Cubans to be accepted, whether they steal a plane, a boat or arrive in the United States by any other means. "We'll turn you down at the Interests Section; what matters is that you steal them, that we can make a political show, that you're political asylum-seekers, refugees from the Cuban communist government, as they say. But what matters here is that this Actworks and is part of our policy towards Cuba."

What this is really about, what the US authorities keep doing, is brazenly violating the migration agreements adopted by Cuba and the United States in 1994 and 1995, agreements that really envisage the search for a solution to the migratory flow from Cuba to the United States; a violation that's again apparent in the present case. Polanco, how do you see it?

Rogelio Polanco - Sure it’s a violation, Randy. It's a violation we will never tire of condemning repeatedly, because US infractions of the migration agreements have been repeated; as you correctly said, they were adopted by the two nations in 1994 and 1995, precisely with the aim of solving the migration problem between the two countries.

The note itself, issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 11, reflected exactly one of the clauses of the agreements of September 1994, where it explicitly reaffirms a common interest in stopping risky departures from Cuba, as well as the commitment by the United States - and I quote the document, the 1994 migration agreement - to discontinue the practice of granting temporary admission to any Cuban migrant who reaches US territory by irregular means, and to take effective measures to oppose or prevent the use of violence by any person who attempts to arrive or arrives in the United States from Cuba, through the use of force to divert aircraft or vessels.

The wording of these migration agreements of September 1994 made very clear the elements that are now being repeatedly violated by the US authorities.

Is it or is it not an irregular means of traveling to the United States to steal, hijack a plane, put people's lives at risk, both those of the passengers as well as other citizens, including US citizens? Because, how could it get to the United States, where it was to land, and if there had been an accident, as in previous cases?

Why incite this kind of theft, the diverting of planes to the United States? Something the migration agreements make clear: "prevent the use the use of violence and the use of force to divert aircraft or vessels", something that has figured in the accords between our two countries.

As we know, this has caused several deaths on previous occasions; the antecedents on this are there. Let's remember the case in which someone killed an officer in our Revolutionary Navy, Roberto Aguilar Reyes, who died exactly when that person seized that Cuban vessel, stole, got to the United States and now walks free.

Randy Alonso - The television images show them entering US territory.

Rogelio Polanco - As part of the impunity, which has been typical, he was smiling at the TV cameras, and absolutely nothing was done. It a recurrent thing on the part of the US authorities, that they have evaded this. And these acts are no less serious when there are no deaths, because all these acts of piracy can potentially cause loss of life; the seriousness is in allowing and encouraging this type of action, which of course can lead to fatalities, to the deaths of people and which, unquestionably, give the green light to hijacking.

The US authorities should have been asked what it is they want, if they want to go on encouraging theft of aircraft and vessels from Cuba by these people, to get to the United States; get there by any means, and hold up their example, unquestionably, as the right way to emigrate to the United States, while refusing visas to people who apply for them from here.

There is no more evident, clearer sign of this political manipulation that the agreements are being broken and that such violations constitute also a concession to the mafia. As has always been this interpretation of the "dry feet, wet feet" policy, which has also been a manipulation of the migration accords; because nowhere does it talk of this philosophy, which has been applied for several years and has meant, as I was saying earlier, a concession to the mafia, that same mafia that has been fomented by the US authorities themselves and which, unquestionably, are those that have cause the death, the sacrifice of lives, theft and blatant manipulation of public opinion with events such as this.

I think the US people should know about this manipulation and recognize that what is done with events like these endangers also the lives of US citizens, who may also die because of these incidents; it runs counter to the peace of mind of the US people and to security, something the US authorities are always boasting about these days.

Randy Alonso - Yes, there's no question it's a flagrant violation of the migration agreements, it's incitement to hijack planes, to illegal departures; as the Foreign Ministry statement puts it, these new pronouncements by President Bush, his latest lies about how the Cuban government persecutes illegal emigrants sent back by the coastguard service, a new justification for accepting the largest possible number of illegal immigrants to the United States from Cuba. 90% of these, as the Foreign Ministry statement says, are the result of people-trafficking by pirate launches from the United States, something that has gone on happening, something that goes on being condoned by the US authorities, who know who the operators are, know where the trafficking takes place and, in reality, have acted against these people very rarely, and when they have acted, they've imposed only light penalties that will not solve the problem of the illegal traffic in immigrants because the US authorities have no real intention of doing so.

There was a case the other day in which the authorities demonstrated their knowledge of who the launch operators were, and so far we've heard practically nothing about what happened to these two criminals.

Gladys Rubio - This list (the exhibit) was prepared by the US coastguards. It includes a report with names, of the men, women and children who were aboard the intercepted launch, including the two individuals who carried out this people-smuggling operation. Beside the names Jordán Sardiñas and Bruno Nápoles, the word "smuggler".

This group was sent back from the port of Orozco on September 10, but left Caibarién on the 6th. They were very close to the US coast when they were intercepted by the US coastguards, who made them stop.

Illegal emigrant - They threw a rope, which the people on our launch tossed into the water; in reality there was no tie-up. And I think at the back they threw another, which I believe may have fouled the propeller, something like that, and then they came alongside our launch and overtook us, because none of us ever stopped the launch - well, those that were driving it. When they got on board, they shut off the engines and took everybody over to the other one.

Illegal emigrant - They threw ropes and then held the boat back and got on board quickly and told us to put our hands on our heads and threw us on the deck. Then they turned a hose on the men and tied up several, thinking they were going to jump off, but nothing more.

Gladys Rubio - Idalmys had had an operation 45 days before and arrived in Cuba feeling ill. She was seen right away and hospitalized. Like the rest, she risked her life. Now they're all back in their homes, but they were lucky; many, in this dangerous adventure, neither arrive nor return.

Randy Alonso - We don't know what the US authorities have done with either Jordán Sardiñas or Bruno Nápoles. This report shows they were the smugglers but, nevertheless, nothing. No information at all about the pair has been forthcoming either publicly or via the channels of communication between the coastguards and the Cuban border guards, another indication of how the US authorities allow this illegal traffic which has cost the lives - as Lázaro mentioned - of a large number of people.

We talked about 30 last year, in that terrible incident at the end of the year; we talked about 10 on the Pinar del Rio coast, recently; we talked about another 8 on the Matanzas coast, a few months ago, and these are concrete examples, the cases we know about. We know some people are lost at sea and, regrettably, there isn't even any information about their illegal departure from the country. The statements of President Bush, this act we have just seen images of, are unquestionably an encouragement for these people to go on operating with impunity, as part of the policy, or as the goalkeeper of US policy towards Cuba.

The recent incident that has just happened not only bears the stamp of the policy of the Cuban Adjustment Act; it constitutes not only, in fact, a flagrant violation of the laws of our country by the theft of an aircraft; it isn't just the breaking of the laws and policies currently applied by the US government in other areas and towards other countries, as President Bush says, but it's also a violation of important international conventions on aviation signed by both Cuba and the United States. Arleen can confirm on this.

Arleen Rodríguez - Yes, that is right, Randy. As you were saying, the Foreign Ministry statement says it, only unscrupulous people involve themselves in violating the most basic rules of international air traffic safety, the Cuban and US laws which punish hijacking of aircraft as an act of terrorism, that has to be said.

Now, based on what we're analyzing here, the sky isn't an expressway people can use to fly off anywhere they please. I think Lázaro mentioned this. Our own zone or the south of Florida has heavy traffic. There are even people in the United States who have airplanes and fly, but have to comply, naturally, with an approved flight plan. When these hijackings of aircraft happen, of course, all that is being put at risk. That's why laws have been made, not just Cuban and US laws, but there are conventions, and it seems to me that among the most important I could quote the convention on preventing illicit taking over of airplanes, cited in the Foreign Ministry statement, which is signed by Cuba and the United States; this is a 1970 convention which characterized exactly the kind of crime committed on the 11th of this month as an act of terrorism.

Why an act of terrorism? Well, we have to remember that this person stole a light aircraft, withdrew it from it's functions and introduced into air traffic without authorization. The authorities had every right to make them go back. Why didn't they do so? Just as in the United States, the planes received it and escorted it, the planes here could have aborted the flight, forcing this light aircraft down. They don't do it because it is a hijacked plane, because there's a four-year-old girl aboard, because it's carrying civilians in front who become hostages in the act, the crime of terrorism that this person is committing.

I believe also that in the note the US government is blamed, with good reason, not only because of the signed convention, but because it must be remembered that this convention was also the result of a situation in which the United States was the most vulnerable, perhaps, of any country, to the crime of hijacking aircraft and, precisely, Cuba has cooperated intensively on measures to prevent this. Over the years, Cuba has religiously observed this convention signed in 1970, to avoid flights or the use of airways for transportation becoming a risk for other people. In the case of the United States, the proof of incitement to acts of this kind is, exactly, what just happened this Monday.

I think too that the note places responsibility on the US government with this crime because it not only incites these flights with the Cuban Adjustment Act for propaganda purposes, but also because, as well, they grant, unquestionably, immunity to its perpetrators. And we have seen, based on what happened, that they have already announced that they will go free, that they will certainly get the right to residence, after having denied this through legal channels to one of the people who is an accomplice in this hijacking.

I would like now, Randy, to go back to why we say that the Cuban Adjustment Act is a murderous law. Because when incidents like this happen and nobody dies, things have not gone to the extreme of what happened last September, when someone did die, people say: "Well, no-one died. Where's the crime?". I believe the crime is in putting at risk the lives of these people first and foremost, in using them as a shield to shelter crimes.

I also think that it shelters several crimes at the same time. It shelters the crime of theft, because - as you said at the beginning - a plane that belonged to the Cuban State was stolen, from the institution that was the owner of this plane. It shelters a hijacking, which happens when it is diverted from its functions, with this that I was saying; it breaks the laws of air safety. Suppose this plane lost fuel and got stuck half way; in other words, the plane was not serviced for this kind of trip, a little girl could have died, these people could have died, all this makes the Act murderous.

But I would not say it, from our perspective. I would quote what, exactly, the INS spokesperson says, what the INS says to explain its action against the Haitians which we were talking about a while ago. They said that when they automatically sent illegal Haitian immigrants back to their own country, it was with the aim of preventing them from risking their lives, it was with a higher human objective of the US government, to prevent risky adventures.

When this, instead of being prevented, is being provoked, I believe that unquestionably what is being sheltered is the complete opposite with this law that contradicts all the Cuban, US laws and international conventions - incidentally, the 12 agreements that were ratified due to 11th September, and which Cuba ratified among the first also, characterize the hijacking of planes as an act of terrorism.

Or is that the lives of Cuba's human beings aren't worth anything? In that case it doesn't matter, the supreme human objective doesn't apply, right? Because if I say that in the name of the safety of the people that travel via the Caribbean to get to the United States, I put a stop to this illegal act and send these people back to their country so as not to incite them, what does it mean when I don't send them back? Well, I think they themselves have said what they are doing, although the INS, as has been proved several times, is also a prisoner of this absurd Cuban Adjustment Act.

And I think all this is due to the narrow political interests of one group. Precisely because of 11th September, of the abominable attacks that took place on that day in the United States, Colin Powell said that no group or force could be allowed to pursue political objectives with acts of violence, because that is terrorism. That is exactly the Cuban Adjustment Act, because there is a political group behind it using death or the risks taken by Cuban families, precisely with political aims. That is why we say the Act is terrorism in itself, even if it does not seem so at first sight. It is a more subtle way of applying terrorism, by bringing death more slowly to people while making them believe, what is more, that it is helping them. Basically, what we are seeing is a daily act of political violence, with the Cuban Adjustment Act, in this case used by a political group - a mafia of Cuban origin - to achieve political objectives they have not been able to reach during these years. That is the intention of the Cuban Adjustment Act, and that is why I reiterate that it is a murderous law.

Randy Alonso - After this criminal act that has just happened, after all the violations of these treaties between our two countries, after these flagrant violations of international conventions like the one signed in 1970, like others concerned with international air safety, how then are we to understand the pronouncements of the US government, which since September 11, 2001 has been fostering an anti-terrorist campaign, saying it is for US national defense, that it has stepped surveillance on its airspace borders. Well, how can they bring up national security, air safety? How can they bring up the fight against terrorism, after what's happened, Lázaro?

Lázaro Barredo - Randy, that is one of the questions asked in the Foreign Ministry statement, how are we to take this attitude of the US government after making these great efforts?

After the events of 11th September, President Bush invested 500 million dollars in air safety. He took a series of decisions; he even went so far as to authorize two American generals to shoot down civil aircraft while flying without having to consult the US President or follow any other formality, if they believe national security to be under threat. This has meant an end to the possibility of overflying certain areas, like Washington, for example. Even the possibility of closing airports was under discussion.

Randy Alonso - Ronal Reagan airport, the airport of the capital, was even on the point of being closed down; it was closed for several weeks because of its nearness to the White House.

Lázaro Barredo - We say that this is the policy, as the Foreign Ministry statement has it, that provokes air piracy and hijackings, that is vital. You were mentioning the Miami FBI spokesperson Judy Orihuela - and we can expect statements of this kind from the office of Héctor Pesquera, given all the links they have with the mafia - who was saying that the FBI was not going to get involved in this, in the same way as it keeps out of a lot of things to do with the subject of the mafia, because according to them this was not a hijacking or an act of air piracy.

It is a hijacking, we must insist on this point; it is the hijacking of an airplane and, under international regulations, an act of piracy.

The international regulation - I have it here - the distinction between piracy and theft lies in the further damage to public safety, according to the extent, place and form in which it is inflicted. When I talk about Public safety, I am not talking about Cuba, let's be clear. I am talking about US public safety; that is where the irresponsibility and criminality of the US government lie.

Cuba has three air corridors. Every 6-8 minutes, 24 hours a day, thousands of US citizens pass through these corridors on their way into or out of the United States, over 400 flights a day.

Last year - or this year, I do not remember now - the Cuban people were able to watch on TV reports the mid-air accident between an airliner carrying DHL correspondence and a Ukrainian passenger plane which collided following a route change, and the resulting disaster.

This proved that diverting an aircraft in this much-transited area can lead to an accident of incalculable proportions; that is where the criminality of this US government policy is even more apparent, because of the damage it can inflict on its own citizens by going along with, ingratiating itself with and rewarding the posture of the Miami mafia, because at bottom that is what is behind Bush's words, they reflect the policy of the mafia.

That statement by President Bush is nothing more than a quid pro quo for the votes and the money and the all the support he and his brother got from the mafia in the recent elections.

With such double standards, you can not fight hijacking of planes, diversion of aircraft, because it is been proved; Cuba has proved that the way to stop such acts is to bring in proper measures to stop such grotesque crimes. When they started hijacking planes, it rebounded on them and almost created a tourist attraction for Cuba, with the diversion of planes here.

It is documented that between September 1968 and December 1984 there were 71 recorded cases of hijackings of planes diverted from the United States to Cuba, and these hijackings only stopped when Cuba said "That is enough". Subsequently, 69 people involved were tried and severely punished in our courts, bringing to an end the diversion of planes from the United States to Cuba. It was Cuba that protected the United States with this decision to come down heavily on hijackers who diverted planes from US territory to Cuba, and the proof is that following our implementation of these measures, the hijackings stopped; this situation has lasted nearly 20 years, because the hijackers know they can not come here, because the Cuban criminal law is tough on any crime of this kind.

So long as there is no change of policy, as we keep saying, there will be provocation for this mindlessness, these crimes, which bring nothing but disaster and death to a lot of people.

And I must emphasize, Randy, the importance of the question raised in the Foreign Ministry statement: "How are we to understand US government policy that encourages air piracy and hijacking of aircraft, with their tragic consequences, while at the same time making major efforts to ensure US national security and protect its borders and air traffic? That is the nub of the problem, of this new irresponsibility on the part of the US government.

Randy Alonso - I remember, Lázaro, the speech by the Commander-In-Chief on October 6, when we were commemorating the anniversary of the evil Barbados attack, when he said that it had been Cuba's express wish to find a way of stopping criminal, terrorist acts of this kind, like the hijacking of aircraft; that this bilateral agreement was entered into with the United States and that, in reality, only the Cuban side had been prepared to fulfill this commitment. It is a measure of the irrationality, the narrow-mindedness, the lack of ethical and moral sense that marks US policy towards Cuba, that it is ready to put people's lives at risk, regardless of whether they are Cuban or American, by virtue of this irrational policy towards the Revolution and the irrational policy towards our people, and I think it is a concrete demonstration of the ethical sense that is really in play in this administration, that not only allows it, but encourages it via statements made by the President himself.

Thank you for your comments, Lázaro.

(A montage of images relating to the subject is shown)

When we talk about this act that has just taken place, which can only be described - as we were saying - as theft or air piracy; about an act that is internationally condemned as an act of terrorism, even, in the international laws themselves, recently ratified by Cuba in the wake of the events of 11th September, one also wonders how the US authorities can boast, can talk about combating terrorism, of confronting terrorist acts of all kinds, when in reality they are allowing and harboring within their own borders people who commit acts of this kind. Taladrid, can you throw some light on this question?

Reinaldo Taladrid - I think it was Hegel, the great German philosopher, in trying to make sense of the German State - Prussian, at that time - said that everything that is real is rational, and was criticized by Marx, precisely with his notion that not everything that is real is rational.

Let's take two facts and see if we can decide what is Hegelian in this attitude, whether it is or is not rational.

Last year, after 11th September, there was an incident - we covered it here - in which a plane took off from Miami bound for Chile. Apparently there was a very pretty stewardess and a passenger, a Chilean, decided to play a practical joke and told her "There is a bomb on the plane". Immediately, like a reflex, in the twinkling of an eye etcetera, the passenger was immobilized and the plane headed straight back to Miami. But that is not all: they wanted to put the guy away for 25 years for that joke. There was no bomb; there was nothing.

Lázaro Barredo - The bomb was the woman, according to that joke. (Laughter).

Reinaldo Taladrid - Well, the bomb fell on him, because of the joke. The bomb fell on him, because of the joke, but the bomb this time has been planted by the US state, by protecting all kinds incidents that involve bombs, a plane and the lives of people aboard the planes. That is the essence, they are protecting this highly valuable asset, the life of people who board an aircraft and could fall victims to a bomb planted in it.

I would say this could be the Hegelian part of the story, the rational part. However, what happens when there are two people that planted a bomb on a plane and killed, murdered, dozens of people?

Luis Posada Carriles: where is he? Well, he is in Panama, in a sort of legal semi-farce, almost totally at liberty, let's say; he is subject to few restrictions while his living, his defense, his travels, everything he does is paid for with money that comes from the United States, from the office of Alberto Hernández, taken to him by Santiago Álvarez and other people whose full names are known; in other words, he gets money from the United States sent by US citizens who are subject to the same logic and the same laws that resulted in a call for 25 years in jail for the Chilean practical joker, and nothing happens, no-one calls him to account for having planted a real bomb in a plane or having murdered dozens of people on a plane.

Orlando Bosch? Well, he is in Miami, he has even got a commemorative day, nobody threatens him, absolutely nothing's happened, he attends public events, even in the company of the most important personalities in Florida and the country. This man, who is directly responsible for planting a bomb on a plane, for murdering dozens of people.

So now we come back to the second part. What remains of the logic that led to the first action of calling for 25 years..........? The US State calls for 25 years imprisonment for the Chilean, for his joke, while Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch, one of whom is on US soil, living there entirely legally; the other held in Panama, but being paid from Miami by US citizens and residents in US territory, these people it maintains and encourages, along with those that pay them. What does the US State ask of them, what does it require of them? Does it require anything of them? Does it make them answer for the murders? Does it make them answer for the deaths? Does it make them answer for the plane? Does it make them answer for the bomb? What does it require of them? Absolutely nothing.

So perhaps this is all very rational; because perhaps this incident of these two murderers, free men of whom nobody asks or requires anything, shows that this attitude is so irrational that it can only be explained by reasons that are alien to the most elementary human reasoning.

Where is the laies? Where is the role of a prosecution service whose job is to prosecute felonies who are there? Where is the concern for the victims? Where is the struggle against terrorism? Where is the will to protect aircraft, both those used as missiles, as they were used on 11th September and those blown up in flight? Where is the will? This really is a case of double standards, of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds; this really is a case of acting without any kind of guiding principle. And there's no longer any point in discussing the rationality or irrationality of this attitude; it's an irrational attitude, it's a conspiratorial attitude; at bottom, it's a murderous attitude, because they are the offspring of this whole policy.

All this mafia... And I maintain that the word mafia is when someone puts himself above the law, it's not a gratuitous adjective. You are part of a mafia when you put yourself above the law, and these people, when they are maintaining Luis Posada Carriles and proclaiming an Orlando Bosch day, are putting themselves above the law, because they are being the accomplices of two murderers who should be convicted and locked up for being direct organizers of, and direct participants in, a horrendous mass murder, for this reason, again they are putting themselves above the law and are consequently a mafia.

They are the offspring of this policy and they are there, and we are certain that taking no action provokes this mafia into planning something else.

Let's not forget that in 2000, in this same place, we condemned all the plans that were being made in Central America - El Salvador, to be precise - for planting another bomb on a commercial aircraft, right here we condemned it. Who was doing it? The offspring of this policy, US citizens, from US territory with accomplices in Central America.

And not long ago, our Foreign Minister, Felipe Pérez Roque, revealed in an Internet forum that information had been passed to the US authorities about a new plan, another plan, on top of the many there have been, to plant a bomb on a Miami-Havana flight, on one of the Miami-Havana charter flights. In other words, the policy is still in place, the intentions are still there and this policy incites them, and keeps on inciting them, these murderers and this mafia.

That, Randy, is totally irrational, and can not be explained at all, from any point of view.

Randy Alonso - And it is a demonstration of the double standard of this government, which proclaims itself as the champion of the worldwide struggle against terrorism, which talks about defending the national security of the US people and harbors hijackers of aircraft within its borders; worse still, it's harboring the terrorists that carried out one of the worst acts of terrorism in world aviation history, and which are a measure - as you were saying - of how far they have taken this absurd policy.

Faced with that irrationality, with that bitter hatred reflected in such a criminal policy as the Cuban Adjustment Act, Cuba has maintained a constructive position, an honest position that involves complying with the migration agreements and, above all, trying to solve the problem of illegal emigration, which is a problem both for Cuba and for the US people itself.

Rogelio Polanco - This is a key issue for the US people, it is now one of the subjects that figures most in public debate in the United States, the migration question, which decides the essence of that society, a society founded on immigration and which receives thousands and thousands of immigrants from all over the world, and which has made this issue a fundamental part of current political debate in the United States.

The United States sets its face against doing what has to be done to deal with the migration issue rationally, and in the case of Cuba, does the opposite. Meantime, as we were saying, Cuba is complying with the migration agreements, complying with the international conventions; but Cuba goes further, Cuba proposes cooperation with the United States on this issue. In other words, the United States is not meeting its obligations under the agreements while Cuba nonetheless insists on compliance, condemns non-compliance and also proposes new regulations, new bilateral agreements on immigration and on combating the illegal traffick in people, also a growing problem that the US authorities now can not cope with. This has been part of these proposals, as has been said on various occasions, that they join in the cooperation that Cuba has also been prepared to offer as regards the fight against terrorism and the fight against the traffick in narcotics, offers that have been rejected by the US authorities.

The US people should know about this, because their own authorities are refusing international cooperation with a neighboring country that is proposing bilateral solutions to these problems, which are now worldwide scourges for the whole of mankind. Nonetheless, the United States goes on lying, instead of cooperating, seeks confrontation with Cuba; proposes, of course, to leave its external policy towards Cuba in the hands of terrorists, in the hands of liars, like Otto Reich. And on top of that, it goes on tolerating and goes on fostering this terrorist mafia in Miami, which has hijacked that policy.

We see that it is not just those officials, it is also the highest officials in the land, the President himself, whose public statements encourage this policy, encourage the hijacking of planes, encourage Cuban citizens to go there by any means regardless of the crimes they may have committed. In other words, this double-standard policy is being blessed at the highest level, this policy that can only be described as politicized, unilateral and criminal.

I think the United States is creating an irreconcilable contradiction for itself, with US public opinion and international public opinion, which leaves the US government shackled to a policy of the cold-war era. We realize that the cold war with Cuba is still going on, that this obsolete policy is being maintained - a failed policy that has no moral, ethical or legal basis.

One should ask where is the responsibility of these authorities that persist in this failed policy and when are they going to realize that the siren song with which they attract Cuban citizens, by any route, including the death of people, is not going to destroy the Revolution, is not going to crown this policy with success?

As Arleen was saying a little while ago, it should be emphasized at the present time that there can be no value for human life when this policy results in those prisoners of the US empire and in the mafia that in Miami - which is now the terrorist capital, the capital of corruption, fraud and also of poverty, in the United States - uses these facts and the illegal Cuban immigrants to fuel campaigns against the Revolution, mere tools of propaganda that are subsequently abandoned to their fate. This policy alone explains events like the one we have here, which has just been reported during recent weeks by several sections of the press in southern Florida and which is related to those immigration siren songs, and we see how they treat these Cubans who have traveled illegally to the United States, once they are no longer useful to them.

I'll read exactly what it says here:

"A group of Colombians and Cubans yesterday buried a couple, rafters, whose bodies had been in a funeral parlor for three months, due to lack of money for the burial. The bodies were handed over after Funeraria Nacional had been paid about $3,826 and the chaplain of the Catholic cemetery donated the necessary plot and the services of a priest. The couple arrived among the refugees from the Guantánamo base, but died three months ago in a road accident on their way to Orlando with their 4-year-old daughter.

"The death of the couple leaves a human tragedy. The little girl was taken in by a female cousin of her mother; but since the father never recognized her, the Children and Families Department wants to take the child away from her".

This is a true story, published by the press in southern Florida just a few weeks ago, and a demonstration of this decadent city, deeply unjust, where they have reached the point of taking it out on the dead, as we have seen here. This is unquestionably the town that this mafia has hijacked for its narrow interests and tries to present it to us as a showcase.

For these reasons and the reasons we have discussed here today, and for the things we have condemned today, I think we must not give up, we must not tire in our demand for the abolition of this murderous, terrorist Act, the Cuban Adjustment Act, which causes horror and death of Cuban citizens and which moreover encourages piracy, the hijacking and theft of planes, as part of this hypocritical, illegal, premeditated, criminal and cynical policy of the US government.

Randy Alonso - Unquestionably, it is the spirit of our people, it is what we committed to in the Baraguá Oath: to keep up the struggle against the Cuban Adjustment Act and against all the other evil devices the United States tries to impose on our country, in its absurd policy of blockade and of aggression against our people.

I am grateful to the panelists who have joined me this afternoon in our round table, and I also thank our studio guests.


Another act of air piracy has been committed under the provocation of the Cuban Adjustment Act and with the protection and complicity of the US government.

Isolated in their aggressive policy against Cuba, condemned in the United Nations by 173 countries, for its criminal blockade against our people; increasingly questioned by US public opinion for its irrational policy against our country, the anti-Cuban terrorist mafia and the US administration are clinging onto the Cuban Adjustment Act as a political weapon against the Revolution, as a coarse anti-Cuban showpiece and as a pretext to justify its aggression against our people.

How can we understand that the US President himself, who tries to set himself up as the champion of the worldwide antiterrorist campaign and the ultimate defender of US national security, is the person who encourages with his statements acts of air piracy and hijacking of aircraft, which are condemned by the international community?

How can it be explained to the families of the victims of the horrendous events of 11th September, whose wives, husbands, children or relatives died that day, following the terrorist act of hijacking aircraft, that the famous national security policy their government boasts about can be violated with impunity by illegal immigrants from Cuba, thanks to a petty policy against another people?

Cuba, which has complied with the migration agreements of 1994 and 1995 has repeatedly made proposals to the US government for concrete agreements for confronting terrorism and illegal emigration. The US authorities have rejected these agreements, which would benefit the American people and the Cuban people.

As was expressed yesterday in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement, Cuba claims the return of the hijackers and the airplane and demands that the US government cease to apply the Cuban Adjustment Act.

Our people will not tire of the fight against this murderous, evil device and will meet head on the aggression and lies of the government of its powerful neighbor to the North.

Let's keep up the fight.!

A very good night.